For the last five years, Josh Fleury has been in charge of maintenance for the Ambassador Building at KCI, near the Kansas City International Airport.
So he was very familiar with an empty space on the sixth floor where the former tenant, Farmland, had a test kitchen. Nearly three years ago, he proposed opening a cafe in the spot, and after lengthy negotiations with the current owners of the building, the Kansas City Aviation Department, they worked out a deal.
Red Crown Cafe opened Aug. 17, taking the test kitchen space and some office space in the dining room on the sixth floor of the building at 12200 N. Ambassador Drive. The space offers diners a sweeping view of the Northland.
The name is in homage to its connection to the famed Bonnie and Clyde. According to the Platte County Historical Society, Emmett Breen built the Red Crown Tavern and Tourist Cabins just to the west of the Ambassador Building in 1931. On July 19, 1933, Platte County Sheriff Holt Coffey led lawmen to the cabins to try to capture famed outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who were holed up in the two cabins with other outlaws. The gang shot their way out but Bonnie was injured and Buck Barrow was mortally wounded.
The new Red Crown Cafe plays up its connection not only in its name but in historic photos of the outlaws in its lobby and some menu items like the Tommy Gun fries and Bonnie’s salad.
Executive chef Jim Strum said his open kitchen is the first one he has worked at with windows. And these large windows, in both the kitchen and dining room, offer a birds-eye view of the Northland, as well as planes coming and going from KCI.
Along with the Bonnie’s Salad and the Tommy Gun fries, his scratch-kitchen also offers biscuits-and-gravy, pancakes, fruit plate, eggs, ham and sides for breakfast. For lunch the menu includes burgers, pulled-pork sandwiches, fried chicken, Greek Veggie Pita, and brownies topped with Amaretto Chantilly Cream.
It recently had a daily special, a side salad or house-made chips for 1 cent — 1930s prices, Fleury said — with the purchase of an entree.
“The customers loved it. We sold out and now they are asking when we are going to run it again,” Fleury said.
Red Crown Cafe mostly serves the 400 workers in the building, but Fleury also wants to branch out and draw customers from nearby businesses and hotels, and even travelers coming and going from KCI, as well as catering services.
Hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays.
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